On January 9, 1961, just 11 days before his inauguration as 35th President of the United States, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy delivered an eloquent and well-received address to the Massachusetts Legislature. On that day, even the most loyal Kennedy supporters could hardly imagine that the nation was about to embark on one of the shortest but most memorable administrations of the 20th century.

Just what made this Presidency so unique and unforgettable and why did it capture the imagination of generations of Americans? For many born after President Kennedy's death, it's a difficult question to answer.

  • Other presidents led the U.S. through difficult and prolonged wars.
  • Many were more successful enacting groundbreaking legislation.
  • Others were more skilled in diplomacy.

No single answer seems to answer the question. But it is easier to understand by considering the powerful combination of these five aspects to the man and his era. John F. Kennedy's story makes many Americans who lived through his Presidency nostalgic for a simpler time of greater trust and for an image of American leadership that has not been matched since.